Letters to the Editor: environment, rent and the Ancient Greeks

Dunedin Stadium Property Ltd and Dunedin Railways recorded losses, as anticipated. Photo: ODT files
Is Forsyth Barr Stadium the enemy of good acoustics? Photo: ODT files
Today's Letters to the Editor from readers cover topics including the government's environmental policies, the need for rent control, and the Greeks' philosophy of sound.


Constituent and MP debate environment

The Waitaki electorate deserves better than this, Miles Anderson

An article "New Zealand’s environmental credentials on the line as coalition takes power" was published by The Guardian on December 8. Concerned about the environmental consequences of the policies adopted by our new government, we contacted our local MP Miles Anderson for comment.

A day or so later we received an unbelievably arrogant response, which read: "Thanks for your email. The article is a reminder to everyone not to believe everything you read. The journalist’s lack of critical thinking is just one more example of how poor our educational standards have fallen in this country (sic)".

To say that we were gobsmacked is an understatement.

Firstly, the article was written by a highly respected journalist who is editor of the New Zealand Geographic Magazine, holds a degree from New Zealand’s leading university, has a postgraduate diploma, and holds a master’s completed in the United States following the award of a highly prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.

Secondly, the substantive issue was unanswered. The balanced article acknowledged progressive policies that National has championed in the past, but the facts provided in the article indicate that this will not continue.

It cites policies including rolling back the protection of freshwaters; reliance on undeveloped and untested technologies to reduce farm emissions; excluding the Climate Minister in Cabinet (the Environment Minister also sits outside); tax cuts funded using carbon credit income rather than investment in climate-change mitigation; the ending of the Clean Car Discount; the reduction of funding for cycleways and public transport; the reversal of the ban on oil and gas exploration; the reclassification of pests such as deer as non-pests; and "revisiting" emissions reduction targets for agriculture (having already walked away from He Waka Eke Noa prior to the election).

Miles Anderson tells us to "not to believe everything you read". But which of these facts is he referring to?

Dr Linton Winder


[Abridged — length]


Miles Anderson replies: I do not have the room here to rebut all of the inaccuracies Dr Winder makes. However, two quickly come to mind.

Firstly, James Shaw was Climate Change Minister from 2017-2023, and sat outside Cabinet for the whole time Labour was in government. Secondly, He Waka Eke Noa was the previous Labour government’s invention, which was so bad and poorly thought out that even Mr Shaw has said it was a terrible policy.

What National believes in is protecting and improving our environment while ensuring Kiwis can keep growing our economy and delivering higher incomes and better lives for the next generation. Our focus will be on what works to improve freshwater, reduce emissions, grow trees and kill pests. We’re committed to Net Zero 2050, doubling the amount of renewable electricity generation and progressing a nationwide charging network for EVs. We’re also fast-tracking access to advanced biotech to reduce on-farm emissions — something the previous government refused to do.

Dr Winder is most welcome to contact my office and I will be more than happy to meet with him and discuss these issues in much further detail.


In the minority

Michael Laws from the ORC is concerned regarding a council member’s identification with a "minority political party" (ODT 13.2.24). Employee neutrality is one issue, but accuracy is also important. No one party in the current government has a majority — we are governed by a coalition from three different minority political parties.

Hazel Agnew



Finding pedestrian access in Dunedin

I travelled from Mosgiel to Dunedin in our very efficient city bus service; I did not have to go round and round the city looking for a parking slot.

I tried to walk from bus hub towards the Anzac Ave and realised that many of the pedestrian accesses were blocked at multiple sites. But I noticed that the adjoining cycle lanes were all open and decided to convert them into a personalised pedestrian access.

To my surprise, there were no cyclists at all during the half hour it took me to hobble across them. Why can’t we temporarily merge the sparingly used cycleways with the pedestrian access? It would have taken a lot of effort for an old person to limb across various junctions to find an appropriate pedestrian access.

Shouldn’t I expect equal treatment of a pedestrian and a cyclist?

Mathew Zacharias



Rent control

Everyone should have a living wage, but most people do right now. People are struggling because landlords take a large percentage of tenants’ money, more than 50% in most cases. As income goes up, rent outstrips it and people end up no better off while landlords’ bank balances increase. Landlords even get a $2 billion a year benefit from the government in the form of the accommodation supplement which slides past the tenant straight to the landlord. Anyone who cares about poverty should focus on rent control so that the money stays with the tenants, the ones who need it.

Susan Grimsdell



The Ancient Greeks knew better than us

I note that someone has drawn attention, yet again, to the abominable acoustics of the Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Setting aside its function as a rugby venue, what your correspondent draws attention to is acoustics which render the edifice totally unsuitable for any role as a concert venue.

Why that should be ought to be no mystery to those who were forced, as I had been at one stage, to do several modules dealing with the physics of sound, especially insofar as they related to acoustics in confined spaces.

The enemy, if anyone wonders, is reverberation, reverb for short, and the incoherent mess audio can become if projected at high levels into a "shoe-box" situation which could not be less suitable for the purpose.

The position of sound-stages means, invariably, that most sound is being projected down the length-wise axis of a square-cornered enclosure, with a helping of internal beams and structure to make the situation infinitely worse.

A centrally located sound-stage could ameliorate the situation up to a point, and that layout has been used in truly massive venues overseas, but the technology and gear used by visiting shows to this country does not permit that approach.

Moreover, there is no marvellous electronic quick-fix which can rescue the situation. Reverb may be optimised within the confines of a computer and stereo headphones, creating suitable venues by manipulating virtual venue dimensions.

In a concert performance the sound is out there as soon as it leaves the cones of the speakers, and, like the genie, once it is out of the bottle, there is no putting it back.

I hope that the Christchurch venue has taken note and learned from our experience.

The saddest aspect is that the Ancient Greeks, with their amphitheatres, knew infinitely more than our experts, in this case.

Ian Smith


[Abridged — length]


Address Letters to the Editor to: Otago Daily Times, PO Box 517, 52-56 Lower Stuart St, Dunedin. Email: editor@odt.co.nz